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Sukhoi Su-25 (Frogfoot) Close-Support Ground Attack Aircraft (1981)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/30/2013

Due to her distinct battlefield role and Soviet roots, the Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot was likened to the legendary Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik attack aircraft series of World War 2.

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Since the early 1980s, the Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO codename of "Frogfoot") has served the close-support air strike interests of the Soviet/Russian Air Force as well as the air forces of several nations around the world (primarily Soviet-allied countries or ex-Soviet states). The type has acquitted itself quite well through a plethora of combat exercises during her lengthy operational career. At her core, the Su-25 is design comparable in battlefield role to the equally-storied Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack platform of the United States Air Force. Despite its decades-old origin, the Su-25 continues in a frontline operational role today (2012) and has been consistently - and adequately - modernized for the rigors and dangers of the modern battlefield. With her supporters still in place, the Su-25 should continue to bring a decade or more of faithful service for the near future as the horizon still lacks a viable replacement.

The Cold War spanned from the late 1940s into the late 1980s and covered a tension-filled portion of modern world history. The line was essentially drawn between the West - led by the United States and her European allies - and the East - headed by the Soviet Empire born from the upheaval of World War 1. The Soviet Union became a powerful military force during World War 2 thanks largely in part to Adolf Hitler's decision to invade the East, his forces finally being stalled by stretched supply lines and the Russian Winter within view of Moscow proper. The Soviet response was massive and brutal as manpower and machine were relocated through all manner of methods, eventually driving the German invaders back into Germany to which then the capital of Berlin was eventually claimed by the Soviet Army through bloody street-to-street fighting.

The events of World War 2 revealed a redesigned Europe where new nations rose and old ones fell - many guided under various spheres of influence. The differences in ideology politics between East and West would eventually come to a head and, as it was appropriately believed that, the next large-scale war would be witnessed across Europe once again, this time involving thousands of modernized tanks and armored vehicles coupled with massive artillery barrages and air support. Additionally, nuclear weapons would come into play - both on the large scale and on the smaller, portable scale.

As such, both sides began development of dedicated anti-armor measures - heavily-armored and armed tanks, anti-tank missiles, field guns and aircraft. For the latter requirement, the Americans turned to Fairchild Republic which ended up producing the excellent A-10 Thunderbolt II, a twin-engined, jet-powered aircraft armed with a massive 30mm nose-mounted Gatling gun designed specifically to defeat Soviet armor from above. Additionally, the straight-winged nature of the vehicle promoted multiple weapon stations for fitting air-to-surface, armor-defeating guided missiles, rocket pods and drop bombs. The A-10 was a very well-armed machine and extensively armored for the low-level attack role with engines mounted in individual nacelles high above the fuselage to increase survivability. First flight was on May 10th, 1972 to which introduction of the system was finally granted in March of 1977. The United States Air Force became the primary (and sole) handler of the machine.

The Soviet response was similar in scope - a largely conventional, straight-winged design to be powered by turbojet engines and capable of delivering a broad array of munitions. Design was charged to the Sukhoi concern which had already totaled decades of experience in developing viable jet-powered aircraft for the Soviet Air Force (the other well-known Soviet concern being Mikoyan). The new requirement was written for an armored, ground-attack-minded aircraft intended to support ground forces in a combined arms initiative - particularly where enemy armor was in play. Key to the design would be its field survivability and weapons delivery while all other qualities could be deemed somewhat secondary in nature (primarily speed and agility).


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Specifications for the
Sukhoi Su-25 (Frogfoot)
Close-Support Ground Attack Aircraft


Focus Model: Sukhoi Su-25TM (Frogfoot)
Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: Sukhoi - Soviet Union
Initial Year of Service: 1981
Production: 1,024


Crew: 1


Length: 50.30ft (15.33m)
Width: 47.11ft (14.36m)
Height: 15.75ft (4.80m)
Weight (Empty): 23,678lbs (10,740kg)
Weight (MTOW): 45,195lbs (20,500kg)


Powerplant: 2 x Soyuz/Tumansky R-195 turbojet engines delivering 9,480lbs of thrust each.


Maximum Speed: 590mph (950kmh; 513kts)
Maximum Range: 1,553miles (2,500km)
Service Ceiling: 32,808ft (10,000m; 6.2miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 11,400 feet per minute (3,475m/min)


Hardpoints: 11
Armament Suite:
STANDARD:
1 x 30mm GSh-30-2 / AO-17A internal gun

OPTIONAL:
Up to 9,700lbs of external ordnance including rocket pods, guided munitions, conventional dumb bombs, laser-guided missiles/bombs, cluster bombs and air-to-air missiles.


Variants:
T-8 - Prototype Designation


T-8-0 - Static Test Airframe

T-8-1 - Initial Prototype

T-8-2 - Secondary Prototype

T-8-D - Prototype Model Designation resembling final Su-25 design.

T-8-2D - Re-engined with R95Sh powerplants.

T-8-3 - Developmental Model

T-8UB-1 - Two-Seat Trainer Prototype

Su-25 ("Frogfoot-A") - Initial single-seat production model; 582 examples produced.

Su-25K ("Frogfoot-A") - Export variant of the Su-25 production model; lower-rated equipment; 180 examples produced.

Su-25UB ("Frogfoot-B") - Two-Seat Trainer based on the T-8UB-1 prototype; appearing in 1985; rear cockpit added for instructor; retaining full-combat capability; 25 examples produced.

Su-25UBK ("Frogfoot-B") - Export variant of the Su-25UB two-seat trainer with combat capability.

Su-25UBM - Two-Seat Attack Trainer; Phazotron NIIR Kopyo radar system.

Su-25UTG - Based on the Su-25UB; 10 examples reworked for Soviet carrier trials; fitted with arrestor hook and strengthened undercarriage.

Su-25BM - Target-Towing Platform

Su-25T - Dedicated Tank-Buster; single seat form with extra avionics and improved survivability; support for modern guided munitions; eight examples completed.

Su-25TM (Su-39) - Modernized and improved tank-buster form.

Su-25SM - Modernized single-seat ground-attack form; updated cockpit; 80 conversions from existing Su-25 aircraft expected.

Su-25KM "Scorpion" - Georgian/Israeli venture in which Su-25 fleet is upgraded with all-glass cockpit by Elbit Systems which supports all-weather/day-night operations as well as NATO ordnance.

Su-28 - Proposed advanced jet trainer based on the Su-25 airframe.

Su-25R - Proposed dedicated reconnaissance platform; never produced.

Su-25U3 - Proposed three-seat advanced trainer; never produced.

Su-25U - Georgian two-seat trainer variant appearing in 1996; three examples produced.

Su-25M1 - Ukranian Air Force modernized single-seat Su-25 attack aircraft.

Su-25UBM1 - Ukranian Air Force modernized Su-25 two-seat trainers.

Su-39 - Sukhoi designation of Su-25TM


Operators:
Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Chad; Czechoslovakia; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Equitorial New Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Georgia; Gambia; Iraq; Iran; Ivory Coast; Kazakhstan; Macedonia; North Korea; Peru; Russia; Turkmenistan; Slovakia; Soviet Union; Sudan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan